Joanie Ogg, CTC, MCC
Occupation:Travel Association Executive
Number of Cruises: 100’s
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Explorer of the Seas
Sailing Date: April 10, 2005
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
The Explorer of the Seas Group
I was the seminar leader and group escort for a group of 40 travel professionals on a Western Caribbean sailing of the Explorer of the Seas. I had been attending a Travel Industry Trade Conference in Miami along with many of the travel professionals who were part of our seminar at sea. I took a cab from the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Miami which cost about $8 with tip. The Hyatt is a hotel often used by the cruise lines for pre and post overnight hotel stays for their guests who purchase that option. As a result there is a desk set up and manned by Royal Caribbean right in the lobby of the hotel. I was able to pick up some bag tags there for my luggage since I was traveling without documents and was to pick them up at the pier. This made the check in process at the pier a piece of cake. My luggage was already tagged with my cabin number and name so I simply checked it with a porter and proceeded to check in for the cruise. The process was very simple and extremely well organized and efficiently handled. With more than 3000 people to board that day I was pleasantly surprised a short lines moving quickly and I was on the ship in less than 30 minutes. My congratulations to the staff at the pier!
Summary in Advance
This review is more of a pictorial of the Explorer of the Seas than a thorough review of the ship. I did it this way so you can see the diversity of activities the ship offers and get a feel for the ship itself. You could actually sail on the Explorer of the Seas and never get off the ship and have the best cruise of your life. The Explorer of the Seas (and the other Voyager class vessels) truly have no competition and are unique onto themselves. They are destination enough to warrant taking the cruise. Any ports that you might visit are just an added bonus to the experience. If you are comparison shopping for a cruise, here is how to tell if you should pick this ship. The Explorer of the Seas is without question the best choice if you fit any of the following profiles.
Families or Family Reunions: Do yourself a favor and don’t even think about another ship. There is such a diverse amount of activities and entertainment on the Explorer of the Seas, that there is a lot to do for everyone. I saw families bonding everywhere. I only regret that the Voyager class ships didn’t exist when our son was younger. I just don't think there could be a better choice for family reunions.
Honeymooners: There were a good number of honeymoon couples on this cruise and they were all ecstatic. Royal Caribbean has many amenities for honeymooners that make this an excellent choice. The ship is large and diverse enough to satisfy anyone’s tastes, but it also offers a level of privacy that honeymooners sometimes do not get on smaller ships.
Business Meetings: For the same reason this is the best choice for family reunions, it would be the best choice for meetings. There are so many team building opportunities on the Explorer that it is almost unbelievable. The Conference Center is state of the art (as good as you would find in any hotel) and the idea that costs are controlled makes the Explorer of the Seas an incredible meeting venue. Our group of travel agents was very impressed with this area of the ship and felt it would be a great offering to their business focused group business.
Groups and Friends Traveling Together: If you belong to a group of some sort or travel with other couples, the Explorer of the Seas offers enough diverse opportunities for activities and entertainment, that everyone will be pleased. Having the group come together for meetings, meals, shore excursions and cocktail parties while pursuing individual tastes always makes for an enjoyable cruise for all.
About the only folks I wouldn’t recommend the Explorer of the Seas as the best choice would be those that prefer smaller, more intimate ships and singles traveling by themselves. Because of the number of passengers, number of entertainment venues and overall size of the ship, it would much more difficult to make a connection with other singles. However, Royal Caribbean does an excellent job of offering singles events, so it just might be my observation rather than a matter of fact.
One thing is guaranteed. You will be in awe of this ship and remember your cruise for a good long time
The The Explorer of the Seas is 138,000 gross tons and has a passenger capacity of 3,114. The godmother of the ship is Jackie Joyner-Kersee. The ship is also well evolved as every detail in her manufacture and décor is simply beautiful. The attention to detail (in the flooring, walls, ceilings, wall coverings and art work) is simply awe-inspiring. Everywhere you look you are treated to visually stimulating design. For this reason I have included a good number of pictures so you can begin the visual experience with this review before you get on the ship.
I was located
in cabin 2600 located on deck 2 aft. I enjoyed a window and had and was located
so perfectly that reaching the elevators and disembarkation deck was very easy.
I had a very comfortable queen sized bed with excellent bedding. There were two
nightstands and two reading lights that were quite effective and had both a
bright and dimmer settings for reading or just a bit of light. There was a large
sitting area and coffee table. Across from the sitting area was a large desk
area with 2 110v outlets (American) and 2 110v outlets (European). The blow
dryer is located in the top drawer and does not need an outlet as it is already
connected internally. This allows the use of both outlets if you need them to
charge batteries or keep your laptop and printer hooked up as I do. The Explorer
offered “in cabin” Internet access for only $100 with unlimited access for the
entire cruise. Of course, I immediately took advantage of the offer and the good
news was that the telephone used to gain access came equipped with European
sockets that worked perfectly. Tip! If this is something you want to access you
must get on board early and head straight for the Reception Desk to put down
your deposit and pick up the equipment. It is in high demand and they only have
about 15 of these units so you must get one early on or you might miss out.
There is a television with a substantial amount of programming, a safe and ample
storage for clothing items and miscellaneous items. A closet lines the cabin
entranceway and offers a good amount of storage for hanging clothes as well as
shoe and miscellaneous storage in the shelves on the right hand side. I over
packed as is typical for me and I had more than enough space to facilitate my
wide wardrobe selection!
The bathroom was well-designed and offered ample storage for toiletries and other items. The shower offered excellent temperature and water flow controls and I very much liked the sliding door that allowed you to completely enclose yourself while showering. There was no shower curtain interfering with your shower. I don’t understand why every cruise line doesn’t adopt this feature, as it makes showering so much more enjoyable and the chance for water to end up on the floor is minimal if at all.
Exploring the Explorer of the Seas
The best way to explore the Explorer is to start at the very top and work our way to the bottom, so that is how I will conduct the visual tour. So, if you will join me for a ride up the aft elevator to deck 14 and then walk up the stairwell to deck 15, this is where we will begin.
The Intimate Skylight Chapel
Up the stairway from Dizzy’s Jazz Lounge one finds the intimate Skylight Chapel. It gets its name from the stained glass skylight that resides over the pulpit.
Dizzy's Jazz Lounge
The main lounge here is named Dizzy’s and it offers music, dancing and a good number of places to hang out and enjoy a cocktail. Dizzy’s is just part of the Viking Crown Lounge. Our group met here several evenings for a pre-dinner get together and talks about the day’s events. It was large enough to accommodate the group and offered us a great view as well!
The 19th Hole
To the rear on the starboard side lies another wonderful bar, the 19th Hole. On the port side of Dizzy’s is a very intimate room with a piano bar named Cloud Nine that is used for receptions and is a popular place for a post wedding reception. It is very private.
Seven Hearts Card & Game Room
Just aft of Cloud Nine is the “Seven Hearts” card room.
The Explorer of the Seas Miniature Golf Course
The Explorer offers a wonderful miniature golf course. You can simply grab a putter and a ball and play all you want. It is expansive and a downright fun course. A gentleman in our group spent a day on the ship instead of visiting the port and had great fun playing golf with some teenagers who beat him every game! There is also inline skating available which was a very popular place for the teenagers. Directly in front of the miniature golf course is the golf simulator. While I didn’t get a chance to use it, those that did really enjoyed it.
The Basket Ball Court and one of RCCL’s Famous Rock Climbing Walls
Standing in front of the golf simulator you can here the cheers from those climbing the rock wall that towers above you, but also the cheers from those playing basketball on the full basketball court (it is heavily used). This entire area of the ship is dedicated to sports and activities that you normally would not find on any other ship. Moving down the aft stairwell to deck 12, we enter the first deck that traverses the entire ship.
Kid’s Personal Heaven
Rear of Deck
This is my name for the area of the Explorer that is dedicated to the enjoyment of youth cruising on this beautiful vessel. A private pool area with slides and mini lounge chairs make it their own personal heaven away for the adult world.
The Pool at Kid’s Heaven
Johnny Rockets on the Explorer
Johnny Rockets is a favorite with the teens and offers a full selection of burgers, fries, onion rings and malts. It has implemented a $3.95 cover charge per person for dining. The onion rings are to die for! If you are a Diamond Member of RCCL you will receive a coupon for one complimentary meal in Johnny Rockets in your Coupon Book.
Inside Johnny Rockets
There are both typical indoor and outdoor dining options. The entire structure on the aft section of the ship contains the various kids’ clubs.
The Challenger Video Arcade
Altogether, there is over 22,000 square feet dedicated to the Adventure Ocean Youth Program.
The Walking and/or Jogging Track
Between the aft building and the forward building on deck 12 is a large area for sunbathing and a jogging/walking track. During the sea days however a runner or walker will have a hard time dodging the deck chairs during prime sun tanning time.
Sky Bar resides in the center of the jogging track and is a great place for a cocktail or refreshment out of doors. Several singles get togethers were scheduled at this bar over the period of the week.
The Explorer's ShipShape Spa
The Explorer’s “ShipShape Day Spa” resides in the forward section offering a full beauty salon and spa services as well as a Tanning Booth.
Deck 11 is the first ship length deck on the Explorer and is also full of leisure opportunities. If we move down to deck 11 from deck 12 and go all the way forward, we are on top of the bridge and there is a very outstanding area where you can watch what is going on in the bridge area. Known as “Peek-a-Boo Bridge”, it is well worth a visit if you are interested in the operations of the ship.
The ship’s “Ship Shape Fitness Center” resides on deck 11 and can be accessed either here or from the “Ship Shape Day Spa” on deck 12. There are a great selection of machines and free weights allowing even the avid gym rat to enjoy a great workout. There is a large bank of treadmills, bikes both high and low styles and plenty of elliptical machines. I enjoyed this gym a great deal and never found it to be overly crowded even on the sea days.
Cardio Equipment at The ShipShape Fitness Center
Don't miss the large Jacuzzi at the entrance to the
Fitness Center if you want a little peace and quiet.
The Exercise and Class Area in the Fitness Center
There is a very large room where classes are offered during the week such as Pilates, Yoga, Step, Stretch and Spinning. There is a $10.00 fee per class for some of the offerings. If you are a class junkie you may want to visit the spa upon boarding the ship to put you name down on the class lists as they fill very fast. Be aware though if you put down you name and cabin number they will charge you a $5.00 fee if you no-show the class without crossing your name of the list in advance.
Solarium Pool and Jacuzzis
Heading aft, one enters the Solarium. This is truly an excellent area, as the pool was open to the sunlight the entire trip while the surrounding lounge chairs were covered and offered protection from the sun. The lounge chairs in this area are padded as well which makes it a great place to relax. There are two large Jacuzzis in the Solarium area and an active bar as well. This is an adults only area and is strictly enforced which makes it a quite spot to enjoy.
The Solarium Bar
The Solarium Bar is always busy and well located within Solarium area. Aft of the Solarium is the main swimming pool/sunning area of the ship. Again this whole area is Adults Only.
The Explorer of the Sea's Pool Area
The Explorer has an interesting towel policy, as you are issued two beach/pool towels in your cabin at the beginning of the cruise, but are charged $20 if you lose one. While I am sure the ship is trying to control costs from laundering and replacing towels, the byproduct is that very few folks leave them on deck chairs when they depart. For this reason, it always seemed easy to locate an available lounge. Be aware of reserving deck chairs! They are in great demand on sea days and if you leave anything on a chair to hold it for several hours unattended, you better be prepared to lose not only your spot but perhaps your items. I broke the rule and tried to hold a chair while I was teaching a seminar on a sea day and low and behold upon my return to the pool deck both my towel, book and sunscreen had disappeared. I did as the pool attendant if they put things in a special spot for folks to claim. He said not on the deck but if something was turned in it would be at reception on Deck 5. The book and sunscreen were never recovered and I learned my lesson….
Another View of the Pool Area from Deck 12
There are 4 Jacuzzis (2 are huge) that are heavily used by both children and adults. Adults may want to use the Solarium Jacuzzi’s for a quieter time.
The Pool Bar
The pool area is always served by the bar staff and you never have to wait long if you want to order a drink. I must say that I was very impressed with the wait staff at the pool bar. On many ships you feel as if you are being constantly asked whether or not you want a cocktail but these folks were very available if you did want something but never pushy. Congrats to the staff on this one.
The Portofino Restaurant
Upon entering the Windjammer Café, you will see the Portofino Restaurant on the starboard side of the ship. This is the Specialty Restaurant on the Explorer and reservations are required. Some of the other Voyager class ships do have another option called Chops which would be of value on the Explorer. It was difficult to get reservations for and I did not have the chance to experience this venue but heard it was great. There is a $20 per person fee to dine there.
Aft on Deck 11
is Royal Caribbean’s signature buffet, the Windjammer Café. The Windjammer is
open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers numerous choices. At 3:00pm it
offers a selection of snacks, salads, a taco bar and other treats for the late
eater or one who wishes to enjoy a second lunch. It is a major buffet with lots
of different areas so you will want to explore it before settling into a line to
start picking your dishes for your meal. The salad bar is good and there is
always healthy choices offered at each meal. The Bar serves the entire area and
there are always waiters on hand if you want a cocktail or glass of wine.
Deck 10 is entirely made up of passenger cabins.
With the exception of the Concierge Club, deck 9 is made up of all passenger cabins. The Concierge Club actually wears two different hats.
The Concierge Club
By day, it is where folks staying in suites at the Concierge level can make reservations for various things and use the concierge to help make their cruise more enjoyable. In the evening, it turns into a lounge where cocktails and other beverages, along with hot appetizers are served to those in the concierge level suites, as well as Diamond loyalty members.
Royal Caribbean On-Line
With the exception of “Royal Caribbean Online”, the Explorer of the Sea’s Internet Café, the balance of deck 8 is made up of passenger cabins. The Internet Café itself is slow and cumbersome, but The Explorer of the Seas offers “in cabin” Internet access for a flat fee. I paid $100 for the 7-day access. It was down a fair amount due to some satellite issues. I have used this on other ships and not found this to be the case so I am hoping it was just weather issues that caused the outages. It is truly a great deal. However, they only have a limited number of sets of equipment to make it happen. The Explorer has a total of 50 available. If you want to get access, visit the Registration Desk as soon as you board to sign up for the service. While access is still slow, it doesn’t matter because you enjoy unlimited access for one low rate. Additionally there are now Hot Spots on the ship for those who wish to access that option. The rates for these options can vary from ship to ship so it is best to check into this right upon boarding by asking the staff at Reception.
The Explorer of the Seas Library
With the exception of the library, deck 7 is made up of all passenger cabins. The library offers a good selection of books, but is smaller than one would expect on a ship of this size. It is unattended so you can just drop by anytime and choose a book without having to wait for someone to check it out for you. This is a very nice feature not offered on all lines.
Once again, deck 6 features primarily passenger cabins. However, here is where you will find the Loyalty Ambassador and the ability to sign up for Royal Caribbean’s Crown & Anchor Society. I would highly recommend that you do sign up as the benefits are excellent. The Explorer of the Sea’s Business Service Center is located adjacent to the Loyalty Ambassador’s office as well.
The Royal Promenade
When you first see it you will feel you have entered the something not too unlike “The Emerald City” in the famed Wizard of Oz film.
Three Stories of Wonderful Restaurants
Starting with the Columbus Dining Room on Deck 5, De Gama on Deck 4 and Magellan on Deck 3 there are three full stories of dining. It is an exquisite area of the ship and offers great ocean view tables as well as others that are place strategically throughout the dining areas to as to afford the best views of entire area. You realize that this is something special. The three-story dining room carries a different name on each deck to make it easier for folks to remember where their restaurant is. The dining room is simply beautiful and while large, is quite intimate.
Guest Relations and the Tour Desk
past the elevator banks, you enter the main part of the Royal Promenade. On your
left is the popular Champagne Bar. This was one of my favorites, as they also
have an excellent wine list to go with the Champagne that they serve. The bar is
broken into small intimate areas for casual conversation. On the right and in
front of the Champagne Bar, is the Centrum and on the starboard side you will
find Guest Relations and the Tour Desk. A new feature is the Port Shopping Desk
that offers personalized shopping tips and maps for the various ports of call.
Moving forward, you pass a variety of shopping options. There is a jewelry store, a clothing store, a shop offering perfume and some cosmetics. So many shops made it quite the shopping experience. Shopping is one of my strengths so I enjoyed this area a great deal! This was a very popular area throughout the entire cruise. On the Royal Promenade you also have the Café Promenade which offers sandwiches, great cookies, some pastries and pizza daily. You can also get coffee and tea here or if you wish to indulge in a Specialty Coffee such as a Latte or Mocha these are available at a per drink price. All the other offerings are complimentary. They feature Seattle’s Best Coffee here in the Café Promenade. A Ben and Jerry’s ice cream outlet is right next to the Café Promenade.
Crown and Kettle Pub
A popular bar on the Royal Promenade is the Crown and Kettle Pub that was a very lively spot at night with a one man band and Karaoke. A very busy spot at night with very reasonably priced specialty pub type cocktails. Across from this venue is the Weekend Warrior which is the Explorer’s Sports Bar.
Leaving the Royal Promenade, you enter Maharaja’s. This is one of the main entertainment venues and is always active. Karaoke and specialty shows are often in this lounge. The Repeaters Party also took place in this lounge.
The Connoisseur Club
The Connoisseur Cigar Club resides just outside of the entrance to the Maharaja’s Lounge and has that “club” feeling for those that want to enjoy a glass of brandy and their favorite cigar.
The Palace Theater
Heading down the forward stairwell we arrive at the upper entrance to the Palace Theater. This is the main showroom on the Explorer and it is beautiful indeed. You can enter the theater from three different decks, but I found this was the best way to enter the showroom. Just aft of the Palace Theater is the Schooner Bar.
The Schooner Bar
The Schooner Bars are the signature bars of the Royal Caribbean fleet and this particular one is superb. We met here on a number of evenings and had a great time. There is always a pianist/singer here entertaining everyone and the mood is fun and jovial with sing-a-longs after dinner.
The Chamber Entrance from Deck 4
On the port side, one sees a weird doorway entitled “The Chamber”. This door leads to the two-story disco. In this lounge which is decorated with Suits of Amour and other great décor one will find a lively disco and a great dance floor.
The Casino Royale
Moving aft, we enter the Casino Royale, which as one can expect is a very popular night spot and popular as well on the day’s at sea.
If you like Latin music, song and refreshments, then you will love this lounge. This lounge is lots of fun and filled with salsa atmosphere. Aft of Boleros is the second level of the dining room De Gama.
The Photo Gallery
In order to get to the other parts of deck three, one must move up to deck 4 and move forward to the Centrum and then descend back down to deck 3 where they will find the Photo Gallery. You can imagine, with 3,500 people on board, how many photographs must be taken on each cruise. Finding them requires some time and energy, but they have them organized in a way that makes them logical.
Studio B Ice Arena
The entrance to Studio B resides just forward of the Photo Gallery and what an impressive feature on a ship. I had the opportunity to attend one of the shows and I was simply overwhelmed with the talent and showmanship of these wonderful skaters. All professionals from all over the world they put on a show that is truly a work of art. I enjoyed this more than any other show I experienced on the ship. There is also skating available during certain times on the sailing and folks really enjoyed it.
The Chamber's Dance Floor
This is a
really excellent disco. There is a great sound system, plenty of seats and great
service. Forward, you will find the forward entrance to the Palace Theater.
Deck 2 is primarily all passenger cabins with the exception of the Conference Center.
Entrance to the Conference Center
The Conference Center is awesome. It has several break-out rooms (I counted 5) that are excellent for groups of 3- to 40. This is where we held our meetings and the rooms were very comfortable and offered all the necessary features of a meeting facility.
One of the Conference Center's Break-Out Rooms
They also can be combined into two large rooms that could house a very good sized meeting.
The Conference Center's Screening Room
They offer all of the techno stuff one could possibly want for presentations and they are set up for professional level meetings.
The Boardroom is on the starboard side and seats about 16 people comfortably for more formal meetings and negotiations. All in all, if you are looking for a ship to have a meeting on, this is the one!
This NACTA Seminar at Sea followed the 2005 ASTA and NACTA Cruisefest which took place at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Miami. This four day event ended on Sunday so it was the perfect entrée to our group’s cruise on the Exlporer of the Seas.
I checked out
at about 12:00noon from the hotel expecting that I would likely get to the pier
far ahead of embarkation time but I felt it best to head on over there. It is
only about a 5 minute cab ride to the pier from they Hyatt Regency downtown so
it makes a good choice for pre-cruise or post-cruise passengers.
Arrival at the pier and check in of my very heavy luggage was a snap and I was able to begin the boarding process right away. This involved going through a check of your documents or passport and then cruise check in for your boarding card and a last security check before you board the ship. With a ship the size of the Explorer I expected long lines and a very long wait. I was pleasantly surprised with the efficiency and speed at which the process was handled and was on the ship by 1pm.
Some cabins were not yet available since we really did board prior to the actual embarkation time. However I was lucky and mine was ready and I settled in right away. I headed to the Reception Desk on Deck 5 to arrange for the Cybercabin service and then headed back to my cabin to hook up the device. I was online checking my emails in about 30 minutes. As I am always working while our seminars at sea it is always a great feeling to know I will be able to communicate daily with my office and of course my family at home. I proceeded to deliver the flyers to our participant’s cabins to advise them of the cocktail function that evening.
My luggage arrived at about 4pm and later headed to our cocktail reception that was hosted by Royal Caribbean and NACTA in the Maharaja’s Lounge. We had the lounge and wait staff all to ourselves and the cocktail reception was a huge success and a wonderful way to meet everyone and begin our voyage together.
After the reception our group headed to dinner in the Magellan Dining room and enjoyed a lovely meal and great conversation. Some of the group headed on to enjoy the ships many nightlife options.
Day Two, At Sea
Today is a sea day and our first seminar took place from 9am to 12noon in the Conference Center on Deck 2. The conference facilities are simply fantastic on these Voyager class vessels. Having had to make do with bars and lounges as meeting places on smaller vessels, these meeting rooms on Royal Caribbean are always a treat. They are fully equipped with all the needs one might have for a presentation.
The rest of the day was spent enjoying the beautiful Solarium and gymnasium on the Explorer. Tonight was the Captain’s Welcome Reception and our first formal night. We had assigned tables at second seating and dined together as a group most evenings.
wonderful meal and then the show began at 10:45pm. The evening show was entitled
“History Repeating” and was performed by the Royal Caribbean Singers and
Dancers. I heard great things about the show but I decided to go watch the Adult
Karaoke in the Maharaja’s Lounge. If I did not know better I would have thought
these so called amateur performers were shills planted by RCI to be sure you
come back the next time. Of course I know better than that but I honestly was
amazed at the talented passengers on this cruise. It was great fun to watch and
wish I had some talent but don’t worry I don’t go there.
Day Three, Belize City, Belize
Today we awoke to a beautiful sunny day and looked forward to a great day in Belize. I have been to Belize a number of times and always have enjoyed touring the island and enjoying all there is to see. Today a few of us had pre-scheduled a trip to the Caves to go Tubing. Our guide was Reggie and there are more detailed reviews of his services at www.portreviews.com. It was a great day and I have not laughed that hard in a long time. I highly recommend this trip for just about anyone! It is not strenuous but not for those who just like to sit back and tour. You do have to do some work with your arms and have to be able to maneuver yourself and your tube with some coordination. However, the guides are always there to help and really it is just a wonderful time. I cannot wait to take Tom with me and our son Andy as I know they will love this excursion. We ended with lunch as you can see by our picture below all in great spirits. I must say we were all pretty tired from it but it was a great tired.
I returned to the ship and forced myself to work out in the gym as if the tubing had not been enough. I am a glutton for punishment. Dinner was great once again and I was really looking forward to tonight’s entertainment “The Rain”. I had seen them perform before and knew it was a great show. I was not about to miss it. A group of us girls headed to the show while the guys went gambling and it was great. Rain is the #1 Beatles Tribute band in the World and it is a show you do not want to miss. We were of course standing, singing and dancing along with our favorite tunes. If you did not tap your feet you were not listening!
Day Four, Costa Maya, Mexico
We are in Costa Maya today and this is my first time at this port so I am looking forward to getting off the ship to explore the port area. It was a beautiful day and a few of us ventured off the ship to walk around the shops at the port and to grab some chips, salsa and margaritas. I had some shopping to do so choose this as the time and place to pick up a few things for our last seminar.
I was really impressed with this port. Seems to me they have improved on the ideas and areas that exist at other Mexican ports and made this just great for visitors. As you get off the shop there is a pretty long walk to the shopping area but they had shuttles available for those who did not wish to walk it. The water at the pier was so very blue and some of the cleanest water I have seen. Hundreds of beautiful little fish swimming around right there at the pier.
At the pier there is a saltwater swimming pool with a sandy beach and another pool just for volleyball play at the Oceanside. There are several restaurants and bars and shopping throughout the area. It is all open for the publics use so all the folks on the ships were enjoying this area tremendously. There were four larger ships in port so there was quite a crowd. Everyone seemed to be having a great time. There was live music and folks were dancing and just enjoying the flavor of Mexico in this safe and relaxed setting.
Outside of this area there is an area to pick up cabs and to venture beyond. However, our group decided to simply enjoy all that this port had to offer. A great stop!
We went to the show “Planet Ice” before dinner and it was just fantastic. This was the first time I had been able to make it to one of the ice shows featured on the Voyager Class ships. I was so very impressed with the entire performance. Do not miss the opportunity to see these performances. It was a highlight of the trip for me.
After dinner there was a late night Dancing Under the Stars Pool Party and Buffet but I did not make it. However, several of the members did and really enjoyed it!
Day Five, Cozumel, Mexico
Today we arrived in Cozumel about 7:00am. We docked and most folks were able to disembark by 8:00am and begin their day exploring a day in Cozumel. I however decided it was a day to work so I stayed on the ship, worked on the review as well as communicating most of the day with my office and getting a great deal of work done. I had been to this port a number of times and decided that I would stay and enjoy a huge ship with not many people on it. The day turned out to be a beautiful one and thanks to my new laptop that has a screen that allows one to work out of doors, I enjoyed time on the deck working. Tonight we had a nice dinner and this was the famed 50’s. 60’s, 70’s theme night so many folks were dressed for the dancing occasion. A good number of our party people in the group had enjoyed a wild time in Carlos and Charlie’s and well they did not last to long after dinner. They had already had a full day of frolic and fun. The show was a pre-dinner show for second seating guests so I sadly missed it as I was getting some work accomplished. I heard it was great though which is what was the general theme about all of the production shows put on by the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers. They are certainly a talented group of young people. Rockin’ Thru the Cayman
Today is April 15 and while other poor souls are mailing their taxes and stressing over the day, we enjoyed a day in Grand Cayman. Of course not at the banks depositing in our off-shore accounts but instead spending hard earned money on jewels and other fun things in beautiful Grand Cayman. Today was a bit of a cloudy day and Grand Cayman is a port that uses tenders. Most of our group had plans for the day to visit hotels and other sites in Grand Cayman. I decided to again stay on the ship and work. I must say that working on the Explorer is pretty fantastic. The views are astounding from my cabin and just being on such a splendid ship makes it pretty easy to work. Tonight was a formal night and we had scheduled our group picture prior to dinner. We all met a bit early in the Schooner Bar and then had our group photo taken prior to dinner. Thanks to Bert and Kathy Wallin for the Dirty Martini! What a treat that was for the teacher. Tonight’s dinner was delicious with wonderful and special choices for the formal night extravaganza. Desert was Baked Alaska that was served with great flourish by our great wait staff.
The evening show was Roger Behr who is both a singer and impressionist. I opted for a good nights sleep since our next seminar was early in the morning.
Day Seven, at Sea
Today we were at sea and began the day with our seminar at 9:00am. I had arranged with the very capable and lovely group coordinator to have some staff come in to talk about their various departments. I always try to arrange this for our agents as it is a great opportunity to showcase the very important aspects of the various departments on the ship and allows everyone to better understand and appreciate their wonderful efforts on behalf of the passengers. We had someone from guest relations, the kids program, the hotel director as well as the chief purser. It was a great exchange and we all felt very informed about things we need to know for our clients.
The second half of the seminar was pretty exciting. We were having a contest for the best marketing idea and the prize was to be a cruise on RCI. So needless to say the competition was high and the agents went all out to show their stuff. They had a full week to work out their marketing and sales plans in order to present and have a chance to win the cruise. Everyone did a tremendous job and it was very difficult for our judges (four spouses of agents) to choose. However, they did award the prize for a tremendously well thought out presentation on branding and image. It was great fun for all and everyone walked away with some great ideas to take home and try themselves.
After the seminar I headed to the cabin to pack and to do some work. The day was a bit cold and windy but there were still some dye hard sunbathers out on the deck trying for that last bit of tan before going home. We had our final cocktail get together and business card exchange up in Dizzy’s Jazz Lounge and enjoyed our final dinner together after that.
From my personal point of view, this ship, itinerary and overall experience was simply tremendous. The staff of the ship was warm, friendly and always accommodating. I had the best room steward whose name was Calvin. For a ship this size to offer any sort of personalization is an amazing feat but honestly I sensed it. Waiters remembered you in the Café as did many of the bar staff with your favorite cocktail. I was astounded with their attention to the details especially knowing how many people were on that ship. The ship is comfortable and sailed very smooth. I do not think I felt any movement to speak of the entire week. The only are that I can say needs improvement is in the flow of traffic in the elevator areas but what can one expect with that many passengers. It was certainly not something that was a problem but simply a bit inconvenient at times. So my rating of this ship and experience is 10+. Whatever small flaws one might of experienced with crowds or lines was diminished by the personal service and constant attention to needs and those wonderful smiles that the crew and officers share so willingly.